advent journal: can jesus be born again?


As Advent begins, I am breaking my blog silence — which was not intentional. I have been writing, but my energy has been aimed at a new book called This Must Be the Place: Reflections on Home that will come out next fall thanks to the good folks at Morehouse Press. To be able to say I am working on my next book feels great; actually finishing the manuscript is more taxing.

Though there is work left to be done, keeping my Advent Journal matters to me. I need to write. I make the journey to Bethlehem through these nightly posts. This is a promise I want to keep. So here I am.

This first Sunday in Advent was Ginger’s first official day at Pilgrim UCC seven years ago. She actually started work a couple of days earlier officiating the funeral of the parent of one of the members here. Yesterday we received word that Ginger’s cousin who had Stage IV liver cancer had died. She was forty-five. Her son, who was twenty-four and had muscular dystrophy, died two days earlier. It was not hard to find resonance as we sang today:

and you beneath life’s crushing load
whose forms are bending low
who toil along life’s climbing way
with painful steps and slow . . . .

John Berger says in Greek the word metaphor means porter: a carrier. A metaphor carries the idea, the meaning. The way darkness steals the daylight of the late afternoon in these days carries the weight of grief and struggle. We are running out of daylight even as we wait for the Light to come. Something in these days always takes me back to a scene in Fiddler on the Roof where the Jews were being run out of their village by the Russian soldiers and one of them says to the Rabbi, “Wouldn’t this be a good time for the Messiah to come?”

Meister Eckhart, a thirteenth century monk, said it another way that speaks to me even more:

We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of Man is begotten in us.

Jesus told Nicodemus he needed to be born again, born anew, to re-enter life in a spirit of grace and hope that had died in him. or at least had grown old. Eckhart told us Jesus needs to be born again into our present tense for God’s light to continue to break forth and we are the ones who must give birth to such Love and Light. In the Incarnation, God was not superimposed on humanity, but born right in the messy middle of it all thanks to a teenage girl who had the courage to say, “Let it be.” Now it’s our turn.



  1. I remember reading and enjoying these daily meditations last year. They were inspiring. After the events of the past two weeks, I can use some inspiration. Thanks, Milton.

  2. Every day I pray for all the folks, both youth and leaders, that I have known from Southwest Baptist Youth Camp. Your name and Ginger’s are on my heart as I enter the homeward leg of my ‘walking prayer’. May the prayers of those who care for you help sustain you in dark days, and may those pray-ers also know the support of a loving God who knows how it feels to walk in dark places.

  3. It’s wonderful to have you back, Milton — recognizing that you have never really been gone. And I’m so sorry for your doubly-heavy blow. What a grievous entry into Advent. May you find grace in all the resonances and remembrances that this waiting and watching season brings.

  4. Of course, I read your *initial* Advent Journal blog entry at 2:34AM — on December 16th. And *of course* it resonates with me; and *of course* I’m going to read the rest, quicky, & catch up. Don’t be surprised when I comment on half + 1 of those other blog posts. …

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